Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Member for Bega Andrew Constance today announced more than three million native eastern king prawns would be stocked into Wallagoot Lake to boost the summer fishing hotspot.
The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), which manages the marine stocking program, will stock the 3.1 million prawns on Tuesday 15 and Wednesday 16 December 2015.
Mr Constance said the stocking program will significantly boost the numbers of king prawns at this popular lake, providing a greater opportunity for recreational fishers to catch their share.
“Catching Eastern king prawns over summer is one of the great traditional Aussie family pastimes and these releases will lead to it being even more enjoyable in the future.
“The prawn larvae from a commercial prawn farm will be stocked into seagrass beds within the estuaries, with the prawns expected to grow quickly and reach harvestable size in about two months.
“This marine stocking initiative is part of the NSW Government’s continuing commitment to improving recreational fishing opportunities in regional NSW,” Mr Constance said.
“Fish stocking is a welcome boost to regional communities, as recreational fishing supports local businesses and tourism.”
Recreational fishing generates more than $1.6 billion for the NSW economy and creates the equivalent of 14,000 full time jobs.
This year alone the NSW Fish Stocking Program will see more than two million trout and salmon, two million Murray cod, Australian bass and other natives, and 4.3 million prawns added into rivers, dams and estuaries across NSW.
The fish stocking program is run using money raised by the NSW Recreational Fishing Fee, which is placed in the NSW Recreational Fishing Trusts.
It is a largely angler driven program that has been developed from the highly successful inland fish stocking program, which has been operating for more than 50 years.

Members of the Merimbula Big Game & Lakes Angling Club help DPI Officers release the Prawns.

The Prawns are packed into plastic bags, each bag is placed in a polystyrene box and flown from Queensland to Sydney in the morning. They are then transported to Wallagoot Lake by Road and released into the lake at 4pm the same afternoon.

The Prawns are so small, they cannot be seen other than a tinge of colour in the plastic bag they arrived in.  Loaded into boats they are distributed and released into the weed beds around the lake.  Although they cannot be seen, when released into the water they leave a small wake on the surface as they disappear on mass instantly into the weed.

Monday 12 October 2015

South coast flathead deformities investigated

Deformities found in Sand Flathead on the State’s south coast have been investigated by Department of Primary Industries (DPI), linking the changes to a fish parasite.

During 2015, reports of deformed Sand Flathead being captured in the Culburra Beach and Jervis Bay areas were made, with DPI launching an investigation into the cause.

Laboratory investigations indicated the presence of a parasite, known as Myxosporeans, in the fish examined which is known to cause spinal deformities.

These parasites are not known to have any adverse effects on human health and infection is confined to the fish and invertebrate host species.

The presence of parasites in wild fish is a relatively common occurrence, as part of natural aquatic ecosystems, and the numbers of affected fish can vary depending on a range of environmental factors.

DPI Acting Manager Animal Biosecurity Strategy and Standards, Melissa Walker, urged anglers to report suspected diseased fish.

“Recreational fishers who catch fish that are suspected to be diseased are urged to contact DPI, who will advise further action,” Ms Walker said.

“The community plays an important role in monitoring the health of the aquatic environment, and we encourage reports of suspected disease in wild fish to our reporting hotline or email, so that further investigation can be considered.”

Previous cases of Sand Flathead abnormalities associated with a similar Myxosporean parasite were noted in this region of the south coast of NSW during the late 1980s.

Suspected aquatic pest and disease reports should be made to the NSW Aquatic Biosecurity Pest and Disease hotline: (02) 4916 3877 or

Cull ‘rats of the sea’ to avoid fishing catastrophe, warn MPs

  • SA Bureau Chief

Federal MPs have warned the South Australian government to order a cull of fur seals before their invasion of the Coorong and Murray Lakes turns from a “growing disaster” to a “catastrophe”.

Former cities minister Jamie Briggs, whose federal seat of Mayo takes in some of the affected ­regions, yesterday wrote to Premier Jay Weatherill urging definitive action to tackle the booming fur seal population as fishermen and tourism operators around the Lower Lakes face an “increasingly difficult situation”.

“In recent years the growth of the New Zealand fur seal population has been very significant … they are now causing substantial damage to fish stocks and the local environment,” Mr Briggs wrote. “The population explosion of these seals appears to be historically out of step with the natural order in and around the Lower Lakes.

“The issue is reaching a critical stage, with many fishing ­businesses facing bankruptcy and tourism operators noticing a significant impact.”

Environment Minister Greg Hunt and federal Liberal backbencher Tony Pasin have also backed a cull, noting there were no federal legislative hurdles.

The fur seal population in South Australia has risen to more than 100,000 and is chewing through more than 500 tonnes of fish a day. The state government, which opposes a cull, is spending $260,000 on underwater “firecracker” explosives in the Coorong and Murray Lakes to try to scare fur seals from fishing nets.

Fishermen, indigenous leaders, the federal government and the state opposition all want a cull as the so-called “rats of the sea” decimate fish stocks and kill ­native wildlife.

Environment Department chief executive Sandy Pitcher said authorities were still investigating the effectiveness of the revolutionary cracker trial, which was designed to “alarm” seals and “alter their behaviour’’.

Photograph: Lyndall Hawke/AAP






Survey of Recreational Fishing in New South Wales and the ACT, 2013/14

  1. D. West, K. E. Stark, J. J. Murphy, J. M. Lyle and F. A. Ochwada-Doyle         March 2016

Key Results

Fishing Participation

An estimated 849,249 (SE 27,639) NSW/ACT residents aged five years and older fished at least once in Australian waters in the twelve months prior to June 2013, representing a participation rate of 11.9% (SE 0.4%). The vast majority (98.5%) of these residents fished in NSW or ACT waters during this time (836,632 residents; SE 27,456) representing a participation rate of 11.7% (SE 0.4%). This report focuses on the latter group, namely residents who fished in NSW or ACT waters. While close to half (45%) of all recreational fishers resided in the Sydney region, this also represented the lowest participation rate (8.6%). The highest participation rate (20.7%) occurred in the south-east of the state. Males accounted for well over two-thirds of the recreational fishers with a participation rate of 16.9%, compared with 6.6% for females. Although the highest number of fishers was in the 30-44 years age group (217,639 persons), children (5-14 years) had the highest participation rate (19.6%). Persons in the 60 years plus age group had the lowest rate of participation (6.7%). West et al. NSW/ACT Recreational Fishing Survey – 2013/14 xv NSW Department of Primary Industries, December 2015 Fishing Effort During the 12 months between June 2013 and May 2014, resident fishers aged 5 years and older accounted for an estimated 3,181,035 fisher days in NSW or ACT waters – or an average of 4.3 days per fisher. However, as with most recreational fisheries, the distribution of fishing effort was highly skewed, with a relatively small number of fishers (20%) accounting for a high proportion (almost 60%) of total fisher days. The majority (79%) of all recreational fishing activity occurred in saltwater – primarily estuaries, followed by inshore and offshore waters. Over half of all freshwater fishing occurred in rivers, as opposed to lakes and dams. Shore-based fishing accounted for 59% of all fisher days and line fishing (whether with bait or lures) was the dominant fishing method at 93% of the total effort. The use of pots or traps was relatively minor, along with nets, diving and other methods (e.g. digging and hand-collecting). Regionally, the six coastal fishing zones accounted for the vast majority (84%) of all fisher days, with the Mid South Coast (22%) and Sydney (19%) having the highest activity levels. The three inland zones accounted for 16% of total fisher days, with the majority (10%) in the Murray/South West zone. In terms of seasonality, the summer period accounted for a third (33%) of total fisher days, followed by autumn (25%), spring (23%) and winter (19%).


Resident recreational fishers captured a diverse range of scalefish, elasmobranchs (sharks and rays), crustaceans, molluscs and other taxa, with an estimated 14,059,634 organisms caught during the 12 month survey period. Of the total catch, 7,843,644 (56%) were retained and the remaining 6,215,990 (44%) were released. Fish (scalefish and elasmobranchs) accounted for 75% of the total catch by numbers, followed by crustaceans (21%), worms (2%), cephalopods and molluscs (at 1% each). In terms of saltwater fish, bream was the most common species group caught (an estimated 2,205,656), followed by the various flathead species (2,103,835), Snapper (755,350) and the whiting species group (733,620). Among the freshwater fish, European Carp (500,164) was the main species caught, followed by Australian Bass (195,802), Murray Cod (165,557) and trout (Brown and Rainbow – a total of 157,975). The smaller crustacean species dominated the remainder of the total catch (by numbers) – saltwater nippers (1,415,852), followed by saltwater prawns (728,843) and freshwater shrimp (409,711). Freshwater yabbies (275,108) accounted for the majority of the larger crustaceans, followed by Blue Swimmer Crab (73,501), Mud Crab (48,634) and rock lobster (26,507). Overall, 44% of all species caught were released (or discarded), with the highest rates of release (>75%) for species such as Australian Bass, Mulloway, Murray Cod, Red Rock Cod, sharks and rays, Snapper and wrasse/gropers. By contrast, the lowest release rates (25%) occurred for species such as European Carp, Blue Mackerel, Trumpeter Whiting, tunas and various crustaceans In terms of reasons for release, ‘small size’ was the primary release reason for over two-thirds of all species groups and especially for major ‘table’ species, such as bream, flathead, whiting, key freshwater finfish, the various crustaceans and squid. Large catches (‘too many’ or ‘over bag limit’) were the primary release reason for Freshwater Shrimp and various small bait species. ‘Catch and release’ emerged as the primary release reason for Australian Salmon and Australian Bass, with ‘un-wanted’ the main reason for Red Rock Cod, sharks and rays and various other scalefish

Total recreational harvest weights were estimated for 10 key species and compared with commercial fisheries data. Recreational catches exceeded commercial landings for 5 of the 10 species – namely: 71% of the total harvest of Dusky Flathead; 67% for Sand Flathead; 63% for both Mulloway and Tailor; and 52% for Yellowtail Kingfish. The recreational catches of bream, Sand Whiting and Snapper were slightly lower than commercial landings (ranging from 40-49% of the total harvest), whereas the recreational catch of Australian Salmon and Silver Trevally were substantially smaller than the commercial harvest (both at 14% of the overall total). Catch and effort data for some 23 key species have been examined in detail, based on fishing zone, fishing method, fishing platform, water body type and seasonality. All such results are also available for many other key species/groups in various tables and appendices throughout the report. The characteristics of regional fisheries (fishing zones) have also been examined in detail, namely the levels of fishing effort by where fishers resided, fishing platform, water body type and total catch estimates for the key species in each area.

Boat Ownership

In the Screening Survey, boat ownership was broadly assessed with 11% of all NSW/ACT households reporting ownership of at least one boat, as at June 2013. Substantially higher ownership levels (38%) emerged among households with any fishing activity in the previous 12 months, compared with 6% for non-fishing households. Boat ownership and profiling information was also assessed in the Wash-up/Attitudinal Survey for those households with any fishing activity during the diary period. In response, an estimated 180,622 (or 44% of) fishing households reported ownership of at least one boat, for a total of 230,118 boats – or close to 1.3 boats per household. Over three-quarters (76%) of these boats were used for fishing during the diary period, resulting in an estimated recreational fishing ‘fleet’ of 173,895 boats. Most of these boats were powered/trailer boats, with two-thirds (66%) less than 5 metres in length. Echo sounders were reported in a majority (56%) of the fleet and 39% with GPS units. The estimated total market value of the recreational fishing fleet as at May 2014 was over $1.534 billion – an average of $8,826 per boat.

Recreational Fishing Motivations, Satisfaction and Final Questions

In the Wash-up/Attitudinal Survey, membership of a “fishing or diving club … or association” was assessed, with close to 6% of all fishers aged 5 years and older reporting current membership. Fishers were also asked to rate the importance of eight motivational factors in relation to recreational fishing. The highest general importance rating (95% with at least ‘quite important’) emerged for “to be outdoors, in the fresh air … to enjoy nature”, followed by “to relax or unwind” (92%) and “the enjoyment or sport of catching fish, crabs etc” (85%). Social factors also scored highly, with “to spend time with your family” and “to spend time with your friends”, both around 80%. Lower ratings emerged for “to catch fresh fish/crabs etc. for food” (58%), followed by “to be on your own … to get away from people” (41%) and “to compete in fishing competitions of any kind” (less than 5%). Respondents were also asked to rate their satisfaction with the overall quality of their fishing during the diary period. In response, three-quarters (76%) of fishers reported being at least quite satisfied, with similar general satisfaction rates across the residential strata and age groups. All respondents reporting general dissatisfaction (24%) with their fishing were asked their reasons and in many cases, low catch rates were cited as the main reason.

Comparison of Results – 2000/01 and 2013/14

As noted earlier, a key objective of the present survey was to optimise comparability with results from the NRFS and to identify any changes or developments in the recreational fishery that might have occurred over the thirteen year period. However, despite the fundamental comparability and robust nature of the two studies, the issue of inter-annual variability between the two surveys is a critical factor when interpreting any differences e.g. natural changes in abundance of individual species. Other factors should also be considered, such as changes over time in terms of: fishing practices (e.g. increased usage of lures); targeting preferences; technology (e.g. GPS availability); and regulations, such as size and bag/possession limits. est et al. NSW/ACT Recreational Fishing Survey – 2013/14 xvii NSW Department of Primary Industries, December 2015 The final results section in this report (‘Comparison of Key Survey Results – 2000/01 and 2013/14’, Page 84) provides detailed analysis of results from the two surveys and due to the volume and complexity of this information, readers should routinely refer to this section for any comparison or review purposes. However, several key findings have been noted below. Firstly, participation rates for recreational fishing in NSW/ACT waters decreased from 16.6% of the resident population aged five years and older in 2000 to 11.7% in 2013. Importantly, decreased participation rates have also occurred in other states, territories and overseas. In fact, based on results from various state/territory-wide surveys since the NRFS, the level of decrease has been higher in most other jurisdictions. For example, in the same 13 year period, the participation rate in Queensland decreased from 23.5% to 15.1% (Webley et al., in press). Note: This report contains discussion of various contributing factors, e.g. the ‘ageing’ of the population and also provides comparative information for levels of fishing effort (fisher days) and total catch for key species (including harvest/kept and released components). To assist with this comparative work, a broad catch rate analysis for line fishing was conducted for ‘desirable’ key finfish species (both freshwater and saltwater), i.e. those fish generally regarded as good ‘table’ quality or sportfish species. Among the ‘desirable’ fish species/groups, the overall catch rates increased between the two surveys for various species (e.g. Yellowtail Kingfish, Australian Salmon, Murray Cod and Mulloway), with relatively stable catch rates for other species (e.g. bream, Snapper and the various flathead species) and decreased catch rates in several cases (e.g. Tailor, Golden Perch, leatherjackets and the various whiting species). However, when analysed more simply as the proportion of ‘zero’ catch versus ‘successful’ line fishing days (i.e. at least some catch), little difference emerged – namely, ‘zero’ catch days comprised 31% and 33% (respectively) of all line fishing days in the two periods. Very similar boat ownership rates were assessed for NSW/ACT resident households between the two periods (around one in ten households in both cases), with consistently higher ownership rates among fishing households (34% and 38%, respectively), than for non-fishing households (4% and 6%, respectively). Also, among the recreational fishing ‘fleet’, substantial increases occurred in terms of the proportion of: kayaks and other ‘paddle’ craft (a doubling between the two surveys); boats with echo sounder availability (over 50% more); and GPS availability (more than triple). The proportion of recreational fishers who were identified as being a member of a “fishing or diving club … or association” was very similar in the two surveys (6.1% and 5.7%, respectively). Also, virtually no changes occurred in terms of the relative importance of eight motivational factors for recreational fishing, as rated by respondents. For example, two non-catch related factors scored the highest ratings in both surveys, firstly: “to be outdoors, in the fresh air … to enjoy nature” – where over 94% of fishers rated this factor as at least quite important in both cases; then secondly “to relax or unwind”, with 92% reporting at least quite important in both surveys. The third highest rating factor was catch-related, namely “for the enjoyment or sport of catching fish, crabs, etc” with over 81% in both cases. Respondents were also asked how satisfied they were with the overall quality of their fishing during the 12 month diary period in both surveys – with 61% reporting being at least quite satisfied in 2001, compared with a substantial increase to 76% in 2014. Finally, the project has achieved all its goals and objectives, with an extensive range of data available for NSW/ACT recreational fisheries. In addition to this report, a substantial database has been established to support management and ongoing sustainability of fisheries resources.